A new year is a time of retrospection, but also of looking forward. I’ve already looked back at my favorite films of 2014 — it was a pretty good year for films actually. Though there were no big standouts like Gravity from 2013, there were many great films that I included in my top list.
And now the question is, will there be any good or great films in 2015? There almost certainly will be — and many of them will probably not be on this list. And some that are on this list will likely be duds. That’s the way it works, but that does not make it any less fun to look forward and see what’s upcoming. It will not dampen the excitement or enthusiasm at all. So, in order of release:
Kingsman: The Secret Service — In Theaters February 13
While I doubt that this film will make my top list at the end of the year, I expect this to be good fun and completely irreverent of the spy genre. I’m sure the plot will be incidental and we’ll be in the theater for the laughs. The director, Matthew Vaughn, has done some pretty good work prior to this (including X-Men: First Class, and Stardust — both films I like a lot), but the film that most closely resembles the genre he’s going for here would be Kick-Ass, which I have not seen but which looks, in many ways, quite fun. And I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.
I think this is going to be a lot of fun.
Insurgent — In Theaters March 20
Yes, you can laugh at me, and you would probably be right to do so. In fact, putting this film on my list is more of a hope than anything else. I hope this film will be good. I thought the first film was surprisingly not so bad. It wasn’t Shakespeare or anything, but it wasn’t bad, and I enjoyed it. I hope we can at least get that from this film, though I doubt it. It probably won’t be able to keep from delving deeper to the genre tropes.
Avengers: Age of Ultron — In Theaters May 1
This may be the film I’m looking forward to the most for two reason.
- Joss Whedon is the best thing that has ever happened to TV, and now he’s happening to Marvel feature films. He gave us The Avengers, he gave us Buffy, he gave use Angel, and of course Firefly. He also wrote large swaths of Toy Story. The man is amazing and does great work. I’m so happy to see him making great comic book films.
- Marvel films just keep getting better. These films might be better titled as Marvel Universe, Part 1, Marvel Universe, Part 2, etc. Sure, each film focuses on one of the specific characters, then they come together for an ensemble film, but they all feel like a part of one continuous film series. I don’t want all films to become franchise films, and I hope that’s not the lesson so many other filmmakers and producers are taking away from the success of Marvel, but they are doing it right and making some doggone good cinema and telling great stories. Each Marvel film seems to be better than the last. So, no matter who is directing it’s going to be great. I think Joss Whedon’s unique style and sensibilities are wonderful, but I’d be excited with or without him because this is Marvel.
Inside Out — In Theaters June 19
The question on everyone’s mind: will this return Pixar to it’s status of producing great and original films that are enthralling and tell a great story? The track record has been a little bit spotty lately. Monster University was pretty good in a way, but it was not original and unique. Pixar’s strength used to be finding a unique story in a unique setting and telling it really well.
I’ll tell you this, I think this concept and it’s execution is fraught with peril — which may be what makes this work. If they make something like this work, it’s going to be great. If they don’t make it work, it’s going to be awful. I don’t see this film haivng any middle great, really.
Minions — In Theaters July 10
I have a hard time seeing how Minions are going to work on their own — what made Despicable Me, and Despicable Me 2 work so well was not just the minions, but the whole story and the interaction between all the characters, Minions included. The idea here is that the Minions are funny and so let’s make a comedic film about them. I have not yet seen exactly what the plot angle is. In addition, it’s hard to not to smell the studio money sensors driving this film: oh, people love Minions so LET’S MAKE A WHOLE FILM OF NOTHING BUT MINIONS AND ANTICS!
But that’s the cynical part of me. The other part of me wants this film to be great. Despicable Me has been a (surprising?) success and I want that for this film too.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 — In Theaters November 20
I’m looking forward to this film completing the previous film, completing the series, and hopefully improving upon the ending of the book series. The ending of the third book made my wife retroactively hate the series such that I can barely even get her to watch the films with me. I do not feel quite the same way, but I do feel like the last couple of chapters of the third and final book did let us down a bit. I hope the film can fix that. Thus far the films have all been better than any of the books in my opinion (and that is rare indeed), and it’s not like I hated the books. So I look forward to this film.
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens — In Theaters December 18
I think this film will be good. It can hardly be worse than the prequels — certainly not worse than The Phantom Menace (is there a film worse than The Phantom Menace — wait, don’t answer that, there is, just not many). And yet, I have some trepidation for these reasons:
- It’s J.J. Abrams. He gave us one sort of okay I wish it were better Star Trek film, and one pretty good one. But in both he always opted for easy sentimentality rather than good drama.
- How do you make a film as good or better than any in the original trilogy in today’s filmmaking environment? Certainly it will be impossible to make one as good as The Empire Strikes Back, I’ve already written that off.
- I’m afraid that the film will try to hard to work with and reconcile both trilogies as part of the Star Wars canon. There are things that are not reconcilable because George Lucas is an idiot. Stick with the original trilogy as canon only and the job is much easier. Unfortunately I don’t think that can happen, and that’s certainly not what will happen.
On the other hand, here are the reasons why I’m looking forward to the film:
- It’s Star Wars, duh. I didn’t think I would live to see more real Star Wars being made.
- There’s no way this film can be worse than the prequels. No way (right, RIGHT?). Let’s make a trilogy of films that stands up to the original and puts the franchise on a better note than where we left it.
- Seeing the original cast together one last time is going to be awesome!
- George Lucas has nothing to do with these films.
- This universe is a rich place for good stories and there’s a lot to tell here.
- THE MILLENNIUM FALCON!
- LIGHT SABERS!
- OMG STAR WARS!
Yeah, I’m excited for this film.
Any films you guys are looking forward to that I didn’t mention? scroll down just an itty bitty little bit. You know what to do.